HOW TO HANDLE “THE PAUSE”
Does this sound familiar?
You experience symptoms that show up without any warning: erratic mood swing, heart palpitations, feeling isolated and unsupported, fighting an existential sense of hopelessness—and you have no idea how long this will last.
Think this is the virus? Think again…
Welcome to MENOPAUSE!
Oh, the irony. This major stage of life has been misunderstood and practically ignored for ages, but now with the axis-tilting changes going on in the world, it feels as if we’ve all become menopausal!
So how do we get on top of this? Glad you asked. I am an unusual champion of rethinking menopause and one of the creators of MenOpop (a Menopause Pop-Up & Activity Book). MenOpop offers a unique view of “The Pause” with all its absurdities and realities while spinning them with a healing dose of irreverent humor. As it playfully demystifies the signs and signals of menopause, MenOpop re-wires a challenging experience and transforms it into a radically new way to feel better, appreciated, and connected—even in the midst of “change.”
Curious? Good. Because whether it is hormonal or viral, we are ALL currently living through “The Pause.”
Like menopause, the virus has shown up uninvited and for many, has hit just as hard. So what can we learn from the 6,000 sage, sweaty women a day entering menopause?
No matter what, whether you’re reacting to a global pandemic or an unfathomable hormonal shift, you are going to be moody. Life is hurtling into shapes and sizes that were heretofore unimaginable. Feel like crying? Great! Go with it (here’s some tissues.) Find yourself laughing demonically? Perfect. Laughing gets you breathing. Need to stay under the covers? Ahh, yes, sleep is essential—and now there’s plenty of time to do it.
Right now, social distancing is a blessing in disguise—a chance to NOT have to interact when you are feeling down. (What menopausal woman hasn’t yearned to deal with her symptoms in peace without having to explain herself?) In your solitude, you can regulate the thermostat every other minute and be cranky with uncontrollable urges, and no one cares! Since EVERYONE is going through emotional turbulence, no one will question why you are having a meltdown, and they might even join in. And if you happen to not be cooped up with others right now, to hell with them, you still get to regulate the thermostat.
Just as in menopause, our bodies are adjusting to a “new normal.” Our neurology is currently in fight or flight mode—thinking it is about to be attacked, destroyed or killed. So if you find yourself staring into the void, forgetting what you came into the room for, or behaving in some way that is out of the ordinary—that is so OK. It’s to be expected. As we all find coping mechanisms, individually and collectively, be kind to yourself as well as your spacey family, friends, and neighbors.
Losing track of the day, the date, the hour? Foggy thinking is the new normal. Just stay still and check inside for that wonderful voice that assists when you need the answer to something. It’s always there for you as long as you ask.
Feeling hopeless? That is completely reasonable when everything you knew and depended upon has been upended. The thing is, everything is a phase and no matter what you are experiencing, it will shift and change. So while it may look and feel bleak one moment, it can turn around miraculously the next. The point is to ride the wave without judgement. Allow yourself to surf through any existential crisis you feel. (However, if you stay there too long, do reach out for support so you can find a different lens to look through.)
One huge gift of the Internet is you can find like minds and similar experiences no matter what is happening to you. You are not alone. Look online for the communities itching to help, serve, be friends, or love on their fellow humanity. Allow them to do so. Now is not the time to stay silent or stoic. Let people know you are around, what you need, and how they can help you. And do the same in return. Some of the best remedies to loneliness is seeking people who are in deeper need than you—you might become their hero.
How long will this last? No one can say for sure, but that is something you can cope with. If you find that you can’t cope, it is important to come back to the physical, sensual senses: know where your body is within a room, what your eyes are resting on, what you can hear, what you can touch (except for your face). In a fluid world, the tangible can be deeply reassuring. However, right now, all ideas of the future are simply that. Ideas. When you’re feeling overwhelmed, the best thing to do is look around the space you are occupying. That is what you can rely on.
However you are dealing with this current crisis, remember this, no matter how hot, sweaty, disoriented, or freaked out you get, millions upon millions of menopausal women have weathered these symptoms before and are standing wiser and stronger because of it. And if you forget to remember this, find a woman who has experience. She, perhaps more than anyone, can reassure you there is life after “The Pause”.
Michelle Cohen is a Producer, Writer & Coach. Her many talents have been featured on CNN, Good Morning America, NPR’s “All Things Considered”, and in People Magazine, Entertainment Weekly, The Chicago Tribune, and The Washington Post. She produced the off-Broadway mega-hit, “Schoolhouse Rock Live!” and was the consultant/editor for Jeff Corey’s memoir, “Improvising Out Loud: My Life Teaching Hollywood How to Act” with an introduction by Leonard Nimoy and art work by Jack Nicholson. She is one of the co-authors of “MenOpop, a Menopause Pop-up and Activity Book.”
For more info: www.michellecohen1.com